Free: One Rusted Trailer Bike

  • Posted on: 29 January 2015
  • By: Shawn DeWolfe

Several years ago, I identified two problems:
  • First, my health was plummeting. Too much time in front of a computer and too much bad comfort food on my plate.
  • Two, the side effect of my bad health was setting a bad standard for my household.
Victoria is home to droves of smug cyclists. They wander the roadways like Bangalore cattle and we all survive them. If you can’t beat them, join them, I thought. I spent too many years insulated in my car cursing their free wheeling ways. So you win, selfish cyclists. I bought a bike.

A bike for me is daunting on a few levels. Years of loathing built a wall between the bike and I. There was the road rage. There is the smug attitude from cyclists. There is the orchestrated push from government to hand over half of the road to 5% of the transportation. As a kid, I use to bike a lot. I would trick out my bike. As kids, we would jump off of ramps and do all manner of dangerous stunts. When puberty hit, well, I stopped biking. Do you know how ample chested women find it a challenge to jog? Let’s just say, I have a similar problem specific to men and the bicycle seats they own. I tried to bike in my teens and I was VERY painful. Despite the inability to ride a bike, I actually worked a few years as a part time bike mechanic: fixing and building bikes in the dingy attic of a department store. I learned what made bikes tick. I knew how to take them apart, put them together and tune them. A few years ago, I went out and bought a decent second hand bike. I then spent more on a swish seat than I had spent on the bike itself. Voila: a functional and accommodating seat.

I had to struggle to get back into the routine of biking. When I considered this, I was at my physical worst: I was 320 pounds, perpetually stressed out and squeezed for time. My first wife, Cheryl, said that she was going to start cycling to work. I had some envy. Her schedule afforded her lots of free time to cycle and do so without stress. The system was set-up to foster cycling. The campus had showers for their cyclists. I, on the other hand, would have to show up sweaty to business meetings. Sweat smells like desperation. Desperation is a turn off on so many levels. Desperation kills making deals. So: I didn’t cycle to meetings. With the time pressures, I didn’t cycle anywhere despite the prep, the desire and a profound need to work this into my life. I would have wished that Cheryl and I could have cycled places together-- work together to build a new routine that was healthier and more dynamic. We would have to factor in Alice. She had come off of a “lose the training wheels” session to get kids with motor issues to be good on bicycles.

When in crowds, Cheryl will sometimes dash off and leave me behind to guess where she had gone. As she answered her phone maybe one time in twenty when I would call her, if she were to disappear, I would have no way to find her later. It was such a frustrating dynamic that I said that were we on a trip to another city and she pulled the crowd-disappear-no-phone-answer combo that I would go back to the hotel, check out, and go to see what another city looked like. When it came to travel, that never happened. In cycling terms, I feared that Cheryl would cycle off into the distance. I would have to stay with Alice and keep pace with her grumpy cycling; abandon her to speed ahead, desperate to keep up with Cheryl, or find a third alternative. The third alternative was a trailer bike. I could mount it to my bike. Even though, I was entering the cycling game ill-prepared and out of practice, I thought that the way to literally keep the family together was to take on more load to make it all work. Then, if my first wife shot off into the distance without regard for whether or not I was keeping up, at least my daughter was not put into lonely jeopardy.

I found a serviceable trailer bike and attached it to my own bike. I tried to make it all work. It was painful at first-- like knee-to-the-groin-hit-the-ground painful. Cheryl didn’t seem to appreciate the effort. She didn’t seem to be there to keep up, to coach, or to slow down and keep pace until I caught up. Alice tried some frustrated forays into cycling, but scowled later at the mention of cycling. I wanted it. I was willing to do it, but I needed a small team for support.

I wanted us to do something new together, but in the end that wasn’t going to happen. While I was fat, I knew that I could lose the weight. When i was 19, I dropped from 270 lbs. to 175 lbs.-- within eyesight of my ideal weight and physique. I knew that if I was given the chance, I could be physically nimble again. My time continued to be preyed upon, making exercise impossible. More than time, I needed encouragement, not squelching. My health hovered in the poor range until I started work at UVic and began a new routine of daily walking. The trailer bike rusted up against the fence. My bike has sat next to it, ready for use but instead getting tangled with long grass that grew between the spokes and the gears.

In January, I was hit with a really harsh revelation that ended my marriage. I have spent the last month reeling and spinning. On one level, I knew some of the “whys” of what happened. In some way, I have the phantom-limb-syndrome of “asking why” as I have searched for meaning and patterns, even when I knew why and what the problems were. The phantom-limb part of this problem has driven me to dangerous territory and dangerous experiments. I went there. I am back. Yesterday, I came back from a business trip to find the rusted and unused trailer bike on the front lawn. Today, someone via the Internet asked my wife if they could have it. She said, “yes.”

Before the revelation, I was committed to adding 15 km to my week’s walking. I got 10km into that new commitment before the bottom dropped out of my life. This coming week (Groundhog Day), I will resume this addition of 15 km per week-- because of logistics, it may actually end up being 20 km of new walks per week. By Spring, I will be healthy enough to bike. I have asked my new partner she and her son will cycle with me-- if we can work as a team. I will be poor and out of practice at the start, but I am committed to learning, getting better and getting healthier. I had wanted all of that years ago when I bought the bike, the trailer and made the offer that I would on doing new things. That didn't happen then, so it's going to happen now.

Last updated date

Friday, September 29, 2017 - 01:50